Apple Watch Series 6 review (2023)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Apple Watch Series 6 may seem like an incremental upgrade, but the introduction of blood oxygen monitoring is a game-changer. And the brighter always-on display is welcome.

Pros

  • +

    Blood oxygen (SpO2) app

  • +

    New colorful casings

  • +

    Brighter always-on display

  • +

    Faster charging

Cons

  • -

    Same 18-hour battery life

Why you can trust Tom's GuideOur expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Apple Watch 6 quick specs

Starting price: $399 (GPS), $499 (GPS + Cellular)
Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
Battery life: 18 hours
Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
Music storage: 36GB
Sensors: ECG, SpO2, heart rate, altimeter

The Apple Watch 6 was the best smartwatch you could buy. It spoils users with buttery smooth performance, velvety haptics and trouble-free setup. Everything about the Apple Watch experience is almost obnoxiously seamless, and that’s a big reason why it owns about half the market (opens in new tab).

The Apple Watch 6 offers blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring, a brighter always-on display, an always-on altimeter and a faster chip. Rival smartwatch manufacturers seem to be taking larger leaps forward with their products, while Apple sticks to its incremental process (and it’s 18-hour battery life).

The watchOS 7 software update bought some useful tools, too, including Apple Watch sleep tracking. With the newer watchOS 8, users get a Mindfulness app and other clever upgrades. So long as you’re jumping to the Apple Watch 6 from the Series 4 or older, the combination of refreshed hardware, software and accessories supplies a more significant upgrade.

(Video) Apple Watch Series 6 Review: It's Bait!

However, the Apple Watch 6 has been replaced by the Apple Watch 7, bringing a brighter screen and faster charging.See our Apple Watch 7 vs. Apple Watch 6 face-off for the biggest differences.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (1)

Apple Watch 6 review: What I like

  • Blood Oxygen app: I’m happy to report both that I received 99% blood oxygen levels readings (above 95% is considered normal, although my father, a former EMT, says he wouldn’t want to see me below 98%), and that the Blood Oxygen app is pretty thorough. It offers a brief blood oxygen synopsis and walks users through taking on-demand readings.
  • Brighter always-on display: Indoors, it’s obvious that the Apple Watch 6’s display is brighter than the Apple Watch 5’s, as advertised. Outside, in direct sunlight, the difference is less noticeable. However, when I looked back at some side-by-side images it seemed the Apple Watch 6’s screen in fact shined brighter.
  • New watch faces and third-party complications: Apple launched all-new watch faces that will actually make you ditch Infographic. I’m a fan of the Typograph face’s bold design, although the Stripes, Memoji and Artist options are great for showing off your personality, too. The good ‘old modular faces are better than ever thanks to added support for third-party complications, though.

Apple Watch 6 review: What I don't like

  • Same battery life: The Apple Watch 6 is rated for 18 hours, just like the Apple Watch 5, and Apple Watch 4, and Apple Watch 3. Maybe we’ll get to ditch the daily charge on the Series 7?
  • Solo Loop band: The stretchy, clasp-less band sounded like a great replacement for the traditional sport band, but I ended up returning to the classic strap quickly. I think I might have the wrong Solo Loop size (you need a printable measuring tape (opens in new tab) to find yours), but I still don’t enjoy pulling it over my hand.And it seems like I'm not the only person having problems.

Apple Watch 6 price and availability

The Apple Watch 6 starts at $399 for the GPS-only model and $499 for the GPS + Cellular variation. The larger 44mm model, meanwhile, will start at $429.

One thing to note, the Apple Watch 6 will not ship with a power adapter as part of the company's new sustainability initiatives.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (3)

Apple Watch 6 review: Design and always-on display

The Apple Watch 6 looks like the last few Apple Watch models, squircle shape, Digital Crown and all. It looks as svelte as we've come to expect — there are still few competing smartwatches that sit as flush to your wrist as an Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (4)

As for finishes, the Apple Watch 6 comes in exclusive blue and Product Red casings. I’m a big fan of the Apple Watch entering the colorful tech realm, although the silver, gold and space gray are still sleek.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (5)

A rumor switch from OLED to microLED displays didn't materialize, although the screen once again offers an always-on setting that lets you catch the time at a glance. Apple says the always-on setting is over twice as bright this time, and it holds up from my visual observations. It’s not worth trying to quantify, but it certainly looks sharper than the Series 5 in side-by-side comparisons.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (6)

(Video) Apple Watch Series 6 In 2022! (Still Worth Buying?) (Review)

Apple Watch 6 review: Blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring

Blood oxygen sensors can measure the oxygen saturation level of your blood. As a form of pulse oximetry, SpO2 monitoring in the Apple Watch 6 will let users know their blood oxygen concentrations with 15-second on-demand readings, as well as periodic background checks.

Apple says a measurement of 95%-100% is considered ideal. Below-normal levels of blood oxygen concentrations are often indicative of underlying health issues such as sleep apnea. It can also be a symptom of silent hypoxia, a life-threatening condition that can escalate the effects of respiratory illness.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (7)

When I told my dad, a former EMT, about the Apple Watch’s Blood Oxygen app, he acknowledged the importance of pulse oximetry. He says it’s the first reading he’d take while responding to a call because it’s less subjective than pulse or blood pressure stats.

Apple is by no means the first company to integrate SpO2 monitoring into its health features, but you can bet if it's ready to release its own implementation, the company believes it got it right. I recorded 99% or 100% blood oxygen levels, which matched the readings I received from a traditional, finger-based pulse oximeter.

See how to use the Apple Watch 6 Blood Oxygen app.

Apple Watch 6 review: Sleep tracking

No longer will you need one of the best Apple Watch apps for sleep tracking. I’ve spent several weeks with Apple Watch sleep tracking. It's not as insightful as Fitbit's snooze-monitoring software, but it successfully emphasizes the benefit of setting sleep goals and establishing a bedtime routine. If you’re the kind of person who loves closing your activity rings, you’ll appreciate the challenge that comes with achieving 7 hours of sleep.

As I’m sure you, reader, can relate, spending most of my time at home the past months has sabotaged my sleep schedule in ways I never thought possible. But Apple Watch sleep tracking reminds me to wind down for bed at the same time every night, and I’m finding I get more restful zzzs.

Apple Watch Series 6 review (8)

Apple Watch 6 review: Other watchOS 7 features and Apple Fitness Plus

Apple Watch Series 6 review (9)

Where Apple is gaining an edge over the best fitness trackers is in its preset workout library. The watchOS 7 update adds Dance, Functional Strength Training, Core Training and Cool Down activity tracking to the Apple Watch arsenal.

It also supports Apple Fitness Plus, which become available to Apple Watch customers towards the end of 2020. The workout subscription service offers 10 types of classes taught by real instructors. Apple Fitness Plus costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, although Apple Watch 6 purchasers will get 3 months free. See how to set up Apple Fitness Plus.

A hand-washing timer, mobility metrics and watch face sharing are among the other notable watchOS 7 upgrades. I don’t find that the hand-washing timer performs well. The mobility metrics are excellent for helping older users keep tabs on things like walking speed, stride length and step asymmetry. Watch face sharing is neat, although I’m not getting close enough to anyone these days to see (and steal) their screen setup.

Apple Watch 6 review: Battery life

Apple Watch Series 6 review (10)

(Video) Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm) | Full Review

The Apple Watch 6 is rated for the same 18-hour battery life as the Apple Watch Series 5, Series 4 and Series 3 before it. Although, as expected, I didn’t even get a full 18-hours on days I did GPS-guided workouts. We really would have liked to see some improvement in this area, but for now the daily change is still needed.

On the bright side, the Apple Watch 6 can be charged to full in 90 minutes. It takes my Apple Watch 5 closer to 2 hours to fully charge.

Apple Watch 6 review: Verdict

Yes, there’s not much different from the Apple Watch 5 to the Apple Watch 6, but the SpO2 monitor is a tool you might find worthwhile, especially with the growing emphasis on personal health.

Thanks to its clean software, slim design and seamless ecosystem integration, Apple continues to get away with gradual Apple Watch upgrades. Users don't seem to care if Apple isn't first to every feature, so long as the convenience is there.

The competition is more convincing than ever, though. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Fitbit Sense are just a few of the recent Apple Watch alternatives with SpO2 and ECG worth your consideration. Even the $279 Apple Watch SE —a somewhat stripped down version of the Apple Watch 6 — is attractive, though you’ll miss out on many of the marquee sensors.

Check out our breakdown of Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch SE for more, as well as our Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch 5 and Apple Watch 6 vs. Apple Watch 3 face-offs for upgrade advice.

Our smartwatch buying guide can help you assess your needs to determine which of this year's wearables is right for you, too.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs theTom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.

More about wearables

Best fitness trackers in 2022: Top activity bands from Fitbit, Garmin and moreI hope Google enables this feature on the Pixel Watch — it already has the hardware

Latest

Is a firm or soft mattress better?
See more latest►

2 CommentsComment from the forums

FAQs

Is it worth getting the Series 6 Apple Watch? ›

As an overall fitness tracker, the Apple Watch 6 feels like it's got some incredible benefits – great activity tracking, good monitoring and motivation to stay active, a wide range of monitored activities – but there's still no step up to a 'pro mode' for those who want to take their fitness to another level.

What is so good about the Apple Watch Series 6? ›

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers blood oxygen monitoring, a brighter display and faster chip for the same price.

Are there any problems with Apple Watch Series 6? ›

Some users have complained that the Notify When Left Behind feature — introduced with iOS 15 — isn't working on their Apple Watches, with the Apple Watch Series 6 being most commonly affected. The issue is that, when trying to set it up, they're told that the feature isn't available, with the option greyed out.

Why Apple Watch 6 is better than 7? ›

For users who already have an Apple Watch Series 6, the Series 7 probably does not offer enough to warrant upgrading unless you particularly want a larger display, faster charging, or improved durability.

Is it worth upgrading Apple watch 6 to 7? ›

The Apple Watch Series 7's larger display, sturdier design and fresh color options make it a modest but appreciated upgrade from the Series 6. The Series 7's bigger screen is undoubtedly the most dramatic update. Other improvements, including faster charging, feel minor by comparison.

Which is better Apple Watch SE or 6? ›

Starting at $399, the Apple Watch Series 6 has the most advanced features Apple offers on a smartwatch, with an even brighter screen than the Apple Watch SE that's easy to see even when it's on standby. The Series 6 is the only Watch with an always-on display and it has a built-in ECG app on your wrist.

How long does Apple Watch Series 6 last? ›

Up to 14 hours

Family Setup battery life is based on the following use: 70 time checks, 45 notifications, 20 minutes of app use, a 5-minute phone call, and a 30-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 14 hours with LTE connection and Find My location sharing enabled.

Do you really need an Apple Watch? ›

You should buy an Apple Watch if you want to spend less time on your iPhone, and more time out and about. If you love the idea of super convenient tap-to-pay, and advanced health and fitness tracking appeals to you, it's an invaluable tool.

Is Apple Watch really worth it? ›

Verdict: Is the Apple Watch Series 7 worth buying? The short answer is yes. The Apple Watch Series 7 would provide iPhone users an unrivaled experience, especially considering the seamless integration between watchOS and iOS. Of course, you will need to be an iPhone user to take advantage of these features.

What does Apple Watch do that iPhone doesn t? ›

The pair of devices will communicate over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and you'll use your phone to download apps from the Apple Watch Store.
...
The Apple Watch vs the Apple iPhone.
Apple WatchApple iPhone
Make payments with Apple PayYesYes
Fitness trackingYesYes
Take PhotosNoYes
6 more rows
9 Mar 2015

Why is Apple Watch so great? ›

It's the ultimate device for a healthy life. Apple Watch can do what your other devices can't because it's on your wrist. When you wear it, you get a fitness partner that measures all the ways you move, meaningful health insights, and a connection to the people and things you care about most.

Does Apple Watch work when not on wrist? ›

Apple Watch Series 5 and later can display the time and other glanceable information, even when your wrist is down.

Should you buy Apple watch 6 or 7? ›

But if it's a decision between paying full price for a Series 7 or saving a good amount of cash on the Series 6, you should absolutely buy the Series 6. The Apple Watch Series 7 boasts a larger edge-to-edge display, tougher durability, faster charging, and more color options than before.

Why was Apple Watch 6 discontinued? ›

The Apple Watch Series 6 was launched last year and the Series 7 will be the replacement for the older version. Considering that the Series 7 has been launched at a similar price as Series 6, Apple decided to discontinue to the smartwatch.

Should I upgrade Apple Watch to 7? ›

Apple Watch Series 7 - One Month Later - Worth The Upgrade?

Which size Apple Watch should I get? ›

If you want the largest and clearest screen available on an Apple Watch, then the 44mm is the one for you. You will also benefit from a larger battery and, therefore, more battery life with the 44mm. If you have a smallish wrist or simply want the least expensive Apple Watch, then the 40mm will suit you perfectly.

Is Apple Watch 8 worth? ›

Bottom line. This one is easy: If you own an Apple Watch Series 7, Series 6 or even a Series 5, you really don't need the Series 8. Series 7 and 6 users won't notice much of a difference at all, and while Series 5 users might be enticed by things like blood oxygen monitoring, it's still not a life-changing leap.

Does Series 6 have blood oxygen? ›

Use the Blood Oxygen app on Apple Watch Series 6 or later to measure the percentage of oxygen your red blood cells carry from your lungs to the rest of the body. Knowing how well oxygenated your blood is can help you understand your overall health and wellness.

How old is the Apple Watch Series 6? ›

Sixth generation (Series 6)

The Apple Watch Series 6 was announced on September 15, 2020, during an Apple Special Event and began shipping on September 18.

Why is the Apple SE watch so cheap? ›

Why The Apple Watch SE Is So Cheap - YouTube

Is the Apple Watch 6 waterproof? ›

Apple Watch Series 6 have a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010. This means that they may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean.

Will Apple Watch 6 be discontinued? ›

Apple Watch Series 6 is being discontinued even as the recently launched Apple Watch Series 7 has gone on sale today. The new Watch Series 7 was launched at the special Apple event that rolled out the iPhone 13, iPhone Mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Is Apple Watch 6 heart rate accurate? ›

However, they measure electrical signals directly at the level of the heart. This ensures an accuracy estimated to be close to 91% compared to clinical ECG.

Does Apple Watch drain iPhone battery? ›

I have an iPhone 13 mini. The battery used to last a whole day with about 8hours of screen time. Ever since getting an apple watch, the phone only lasts about 3-4 hours of on-screen time. I even noticed that it dies or loses ~30% battery in the night while I am asleep.

Can you watch Netflix on a Apple Watch? ›

So, Can you see Netflix on Apple Watch?, Yes you can.

Is Fitbit or Apple Watch better? ›

Get the Apple Watch 7 if you already own an iPhone and want to blend productivity and general fitness. The Fitbit Sense is for those who want deep health and fitness data and aren't inexorably tied into the Apple ecosystem.

Can Apple Watch replace iPhone? ›

The short answer: No, you cannot replace your iPhone with an Apple Watch.

How many years does an Apple Watch last? ›

While the device might keep working and can still be paired to an iPhone, a lack of updates makes it a security risk. That means the end of life should really be thought of as three to four years, even if the Apple Watch is in perfect condition.

Is it worth getting an Apple Watch if you don't have an iPhone? ›

Don't Buy an Apple Watch Unless You Have an iPhone

If you don't own an iPhone, the Apple Watch probably isn't for you. Even if you use another household member's iPhone to set the device up, this still isn't ideal since the Watch is designed to work with your own personal Apple ID and device.

Which Apple Watch series is the best to buy? ›

The best Apple Watch is the latest Apple Watch — the Series 8. Not only does the Apple Watch Series 8 benefit from Apple's activity tracking sensors, FDA-approved ECG monitor, an always-on display and dedicated App Store, but it has a a new skin temperature sensor that informs cycle and sleep tracking.

Can you FaceTime on Apple Watch? ›

Open the Phone app on your Apple Watch. Tap Contacts, then turn the Digital Crown to scroll. Tap the contact you want to call, then tap the phone button. Tap FaceTime Audio to start a FaceTime audio call, or tap a phone number.

How far can you be away from your phone with Apple Watch 6? ›

Bluetooth on the Apple Watch has a maximum range of 100 meters/330 feet, though the range may be shorter in practice. If the paired iPhone is connected to a known Wi-Fi network, the Apple Watch and iPhone can communicate over Wi-Fi.

Can you answer calls on Apple Watch without cellular? ›

Answer: A: Cellular is not required to make or take calls or send or receive messages. However, you will need either the paired iPhone nearby, or if the iPhone is not nearby, a Wifi connection for the watch, and for the paired iPhone to be on, and have a cellular data connection or wifi available as well.

Can I wear my Apple Watch in the shower? ›

Is my Apple Watch waterproof? Your Apple Watch is water resistant, but not waterproof. For example, you can wear and use your Apple Watch during activities such as exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), walking in rain, and washing your hands.

Can you text with an Apple Watch? ›

In the Messages app on your Apple Watch Ultra, you can compose and send messages that contain not only text, but also images, emoji, Memoji stickers, and audio clips.

Is a smartwatch worth it? ›

They are worth the money if you know you can fully enjoy their hands-free features and their capability to synchronize with your smartphone. And if you are into exercise and have an active lifestyle, or at least you plan to, then a smartwatch is definitely a must-have gadget to keep you on track.

Can I wear my Apple Watch somewhere else? ›

There is no wrong way of wearing your Apple Watch. However, you should be aware of potential skin sensitivities when wearing your Apple watch. That's because the wrist band may cause reactions like skin irritation due to allergic reactions to certain materials, environmental factors, and exposure to certain irritants.

Will Apple Watch Count steps on ankle? ›

Yes, as long as you are in motion, your steps will be tracked by your Apple Watch and saved on your device. Your Apple Watch will track steps even on your ankle, which will still give you information about the number of steps you have completed the same way wearing it on your wrist would.

Can you wear an Apple Watch as a necklace? ›

Apple Watch can certainly be worn around the neck. However, functionality would be reduced as a result and Apple does not offer a necklace or other accessory for wearing Apple Watch in that way. Apple instead advises that Apple Watch should be worn on the top of your wrist.

Are Apple watches worth the money? ›

Verdict: Is the Apple Watch Series 7 worth buying? The short answer is yes. The Apple Watch Series 7 would provide iPhone users an unrivaled experience, especially considering the seamless integration between watchOS and iOS. Of course, you will need to be an iPhone user to take advantage of these features.

What is difference between Apple Watch 3 and 6? ›

The Series 3 has Apple's older display tech, so it's smaller (38mm model: 563 sq mm; 42mm model: 740 sq mm) and has square corners. The SE and Series 6 have larger displays (40mm model: 759 sq mm; 44mm model: 977 sq mm) with rounded corners to match the display body.

How durable is an Apple Watch Series 6? ›

Apple Watch Series 6 Long Term Review (6 Months Later) - YouTube

Is Apple Watch Series 6 waterproof? ›

Apple Watch Series 6 have a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010. This means that they may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean.

How long do Apple watches last? ›

All-day LTE battery life is based on the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours; Apple Watch Ultra (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 18 hours of LTE connection.

Should you wear Apple Watch to bed? ›

Wear your watch to bed, and Apple Watch can estimate the time you spent in each sleep stage—REM, Core, and Deep—as well as when you might have woken up. When you wake up, open the Sleep app to learn how much sleep you got and see your sleep trends over the past 14 days.

Is it OK to sleep with your Apple Watch on? ›

Wearing an Apple Watch whilst you sleep is quite safe – the EMF levels are so low that they are unlikely to cause cancer. The only real precautions that should be taken are to ensure that the watch strap is comfortable and that the watch is set so that it won't disrupt your sleep.

How often should you replace your Apple Watch? ›

An Apple Watch will last about three years before its performance noticeably declines and the battery needs to be replaced. At five years, most users will want to upgrade their Apple Watch regardless of whether it still runs.

What size of Apple Watch should I get? ›

If you want the largest and clearest screen available on an Apple Watch, then the 44mm is the one for you. You will also benefit from a larger battery and, therefore, more battery life with the 44mm. If you have a smallish wrist or simply want the least expensive Apple Watch, then the 40mm will suit you perfectly.

What is the newest Apple Watch 2022? ›

Apple Watch Series 8 builds on best-in-class health and safety features like the ECG app and fall detection by introducing temperature-sensing capabilities, retrospective ovulation estimates, Crash Detection, and international roaming.

Does Apple Watch Series 6 have a camera? ›

No, the device does not have a camera. However, there is a Camera app on the device. You can set your iPhone's camera timer for a photo using the app on your Watch.

Is Apple Watch Series 6 scratch proof? ›

The Apple Watch face is made of tough material, but can still crack and get scratched. A screen protector made from tempered glass or plastic can keep the screen surface safe.

What is the difference between Series 6 and 7? ›

The Series 6 license allows a registered representative to sell only a specific type of investment products, whereas the Series 7 license allows the rep to sell a wider variety of securities.

Can you wear Apple Watch 6 in shower? ›

Apple Watch is not waterproof. It is water resistant. You can swim with it on, afterward you should clean it afterward. And you shouldn't shower with Apple Watch since soap can ruin the seals.

Can I wear my Apple Watch Series 6 in the pool? ›

These days, more and more electronic devices are water resistant, including the Apple Watch. Unless you've got a first-generation Watch, you can wear it in the shower, while swimming in a pool or lake, and while running until you sweat.

Do you need a SIM card for Apple Watch Series 6? ›

No,a cellular watch has a built in Esim that uses your phones number,there is no physical sim card and if it's a GPS only watch then you have to carry your phone with you.

Videos

1. Apple Watch Series 6 Review - Why I'm keeping this one!
(Adrian Barker)
2. Apple Watch Series 6 Tips, Tricks & Hidden Features | You ABSOLUTELY MUST Know!!
(Hayls World)
3. I LOVE the Apple Watch Ultra! - Review
(Krystal Lora)
4. Apple Watch Series 8 Vs Apple Watch Series 6! (Comparison) (Review)
(Simple Alpaca)
5. Apple Watch Series 8 vs Series 7/6/5/4 - Should You Upgrade?
(ZONEofTECH)
6. Apple Watch Series 8 review: if it ain’t broke, don’t upgrade
(The Verge)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated: 01/06/2023

Views: 5564

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.